Jan van Toorn is one of Holland's most influential graphic designers. Central to his approach is the application of content-based strategies, resulting in a design practice as a form of visual journalism.

Opposite to the more self-contained designs of the modernist tradition, Van Toorn is always striving for designs that are open to different ways of seeing...

Van Toorn's view on the role of design manifested itself clearly during passionate debates with Wim Crouwel, one of Holland's other great design heroes, and an absolute advocate of pure functional design.

Here at the University of Amsterdam Van Toorn's enormous body of work is being preserved for future generations.

From the late sixties to late seventies, Van Toorn made special calendars in which he explored different ways of visual communication. For the famous 72 edition Van Toorn collected hundreds of portraits.

During Van Toorn's long and longstanding career education has played an important role. With positions at prestigious universities and art institutes worldwide, Van Toorn trained generations of students to conceive their design practice as a quest for creative autonomy. And still, at the age of 80, Van Toorn continues to pass on his love for critical reflection to young graphic designers. Like here at the Saint Joost Academy in Breda where he reviews the work of master students.

Video credits

Commissioning editor: Geert van de Wetering

Line producer: Janneke van de Kerkhof

Production assistant: Anjet Blinde

Research: Liselotte Francken

Director: Geert van de Wetering

Camera: Pierre Rezus

Sound: Benny Jansen

Editor: Geert van de Wetering

Voice-over: Micha Westera

Color correction: Maurik de Ridder

Music sound design: Pastelle Music

Archief: NTR en Beeld en Geluid

Produced by Submarine, Femke Wolting & Bruno Felix, Commissioned by DutchDFA

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1 series

  • Dutch Profiles

    Dutch Profiles is a series of short documentaries focusing on well-known icons of Dutch design, such as Rem Koolhaas, Droog, Li Edelkoort, Hella Jongerius, HEMA, and Iris van Herpen.